Best Odds: 4/6
A goal scored by talented forward Rivaldinho ensured Dinamo Bucuresti remained in the tie ahead of the return leg, even though they still face a tough task of upsetting their more illustrious opponents. Athletic are in a good position after the 1-1 draw in Romania, but they need to take the return match seriously as well.
Athletic Club did well to seal the final Europa League berth last season in spite of the somewhat poor finish to the campaign, but the team now need to prove they can cope with the departure of head coach Ernesto Valverde. Athletic B coach Jose Angel Ziganda was given the vote of confidence to take over as the boss and chances are he will be looking for continuity given that the squad is virtually unchanged from last season. With the league campaign not due to start for another 18 days, it is clear that the Europa League qualifying stages come at a bad time for los Leones, but the sheer quality of the squad should prove enough for them to secure their place in the group phase. Athletic did fairly well in the first leg against Dinamo Bucuresti, taking the lead through Aymeric Laporte, but they eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw. The team have since improved the spirits with friendly wins over Reus Deportiu and Portugalete, and they are expected to secure their place in the next stage without too many problems.
Important midfielder Ander Iturraspe has been ruled out through a muscle injury, while Mikel Rico is rated doubtful at the moment.
With 18 league titles and 13 Romanian Cup trophies to their name, Dinamo Bucuresti is one of Romania’s most successful clubs, although they haven’t exactly impressed in the last ten years or so. It has now been exactly ten years since the Red Dogs won their last league trophy, although they finished the previous league campaign in third place, four points behind Viitorul and FCSB. New boss Cosmin Contra seems to have managed to get his ideas across and the team have played well of late. Dinamo secured a decent result in the first leg as the son of former Barcelona star Rivaldo scored a cracking goal to make it 1-1, and they have since further raised their form. The Red Dogs produced a very good performance to defeat champions Viitorul on the road at the weekend, with summer recruit Juan Albin getting some much needed match practise. Both the Uruguayan and Paul Anton, who had returned from Getafe, appear to be in good shape at the moment, which is definitely good news for boss Cosmin Contra.
Juan Albin and Paul Anton are both pushing for starting positions after coming on as substitutes in the first leg.
Key Factors to Consider
- The two teams never met before this season
- Athletic won last four EL games at San Mames
- A total of 18 goals were scored in last three of those
- Dinamo had lost four successive EL games prior to the 1-1 draw with Athletic
- Dinamo conceded one goal in last three league matches
Athletic Bilbao are slowly raising their form ahead of the new La Liga campaign and they should be able to secure progress to the next stage. Dinamo haven’t exactly impressed in the opening exchanges and we don’t trust them to match los Leones on Thursday evening.
Best Odds: 4/6
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